She is selective in her appearances, not making more than a couple of films in many years, but Oviya’s arrival at the BiggBoss House sure secured her enormous fame. From ‘Neenga shut up Pannunga’ to ‘Spray adichi potuduven’, practically any lines spoken by her within the house have become viral catchphrases. However, it was not easy for her to be where she is now. From wanting to try out a new environment to being mentally affected, she has fought to be the warrior that she has become today. She now stands an example for the youth of Tamil Nadu today,inspiring them to be true to themselves and kind human beings.
I was born Helen and shared different wavelengths with my mother and father. My mother was like most moms but by father gave me freedom. He gave me the freedom to think, to visualise more differently, more widely and more ambitiously. Overall, he made me broadminded. I loved my childhood because I truly believed in my innocence and I still prefer being a child; I strongly hold on to the childlike nature that exists in my heart.
However, I do not hold on to any nostalgic memory, be it sweet or not as I believe in living in the moment and holding on to the present.
From where did the idea of becoming an actress come to you? What was it like making a decision like that at the time?
It is quite simple – I wanted some pocket money and the easiest way I found to get that was in the field of acting. I was in school then and I honestly did not want to depend on my parents for anything. At the age of 16, I found it rather embarrassing to ask my father for some pocket money. I began planning on how to make a good buck at such a young age. The one thing I had was my beauty so, why not sell it? That’s exactly what I did. I began with modelling initially which paid for my clothes and my other necessities.
After that, the director of ‘Kalavani’, who had got his hands on few of my pictures, asked me if I was interested in starring in afilm of his. I really thought the movie would be nothing above average because everyone in the team was new. However, the movie was a big hit which was totally unexpected!
You received a lot of critical appreciation for ‘Kalavani’. How was the feeling?
I was absolutely content. I was in Kerala at the time of my movie release. My intention was quite simple – all I wanted was some pocket money, nothing beyond that. I had no idea about its intensity and reach. I was in Kerala relaxing because I was just 17 and I did not know how to react to anything – success or failure. After ‘Kalavani’, a lot of movie opportunity like ‘Marina’ came my way but I still had the same reaction to all my films (laughs).
However, my acting was appreciated because I am a die-hard movie person. I used to watch a lot of movies as a child and I would apply things I saw on-screen in real life situations. I was hugely impacted by movies.
Your movie ‘Kalakalappu’ was a stepping stone in your career. Why did you not use that opportunity to do more such hit films?
I did not have a very important role in the movie. I have never seen acting as a profession or a passion. I do films if I am bored and after each film I take a nice long break. Hence, if I feel inclined, I sign a film and once I sign a film, I am ratherprofessionally committed. I truly feel that I have my own life and this is just a part of my life.
Many movie scripts came to me. However, nothing interested me enough to sign them.
What is the story behind choosing to be a part of Bigg Boss?
For the past two years, I was in Kerala and went on a world tour because my mother had passed away recently and I wanted to explore a new world and pamper myself – keep myself relaxed and stress free. When I got to know about the game from the team, I was briefed about living with a new set of people. Honestly, I have never been around a lot of people and thought that maybe this would be a great experience to try and live with people, because my thinking is very different and I wasn’t sure if everyone would be comfortable with my character.
Bigg Boss is a game which degrades your image but I wasn’t worried about my image. All I wanted was a different experience of living in a social environment. Secondly, you are paid, so why not? It is a good thing. I had no strategy whatsoever and all that ran in my mind was money and experience. I already knew that no one was going to like me so might as well just go for what you wanted!
What was your father’s reaction to your decision of entering Bigg Boss?
My father has never watched any of my films and sometimes, me neither (laughs). He has given me a lot of freedom and he is also sure that I would never misuse it and I would never break that trust either. Our bond is rather peculiar and it is no common father-daughter bonding, it’s more like best friends who trust each other and we do not talk much. Both of us are least expressive. I informed my father about the show and he was like, “Yeah, okay whatever. Go do what you like.” (laughs). However, I had no idea he would watch it. He thought I created some problem and that’s why he began watching it. But once he got a hold of the show, he came around to the idea.
What was running in your mind when you realised that you would have to live with complete strangers for 100 days?
I was completely blank because all I wanted to do was test my capability to live in a new environment. I had no idea about anything else. Now, I know who I am and what I can do and gain. All the other contestants’ mind set seemed to be to play the mind game in such a way that it immediately gains the attention of their audience. However, I did not have any intention to win or lose – I wanted a healthy game and healthy contestants.
Unfortunately, nothing went as per my expectations. Facing the unexpected has also been an experience for me. On the very first day, everyone was nice, chilled and happy. After which, whatever you saw happened. However, you see very little of the worse situations. They are usually on another level but not everything is shown on camera.
What was the general vibe in the house?
There was a lot of negativity. So I decided to create my own world around me and tried to make it positive enough for myself which was quite hard.
Was being yourself a go-to option or your strategy to play the game?
Three things are very dear to me in my life – honesty, kindness and self-respect. These are the qualities I look for within a human being. I have my flaws but I know what they are and I also know my good qualities. So I find it easier to deal with my life. That’s exactly why I am still alive and talking to you. It was not my go-to option, it’s who I am and that’s what I prefer representing. Had I thought to play strategically, I would have decided to go back or completed the game.
Whom did you initially think would have become your close friend in the House and why?
I had no idea why people eliminated her but Anuya was a strong contestant according to me. I feel we could have been close. She is kind and she is human. The next is Bharani because he is irritatingly sweet. I never had a chance to interact with him as much but he is just genuinely sweet.
Who was the worst behaved contestant in the Bigg Boss house?
I do not want to be judgemental but I did realise that they all came to play and they all had a strategy. I also came to win but not in a way where it would hurt others. Almost everyone in the house looked at each other only as contestants and when that happens, it is completely different from looking at each other as new members of a family or friends or humans. So, you can onlychoose between being a human and being a contestant. I chose to be human and most of them chose to be contestants and that’s where we clashed.
And yes, I believe in Karma (laughs)!
What happened with Bharani and why did everyone seem to edge him out?
Bharani is a human being and that’s the problem. He is a sweet person and being from a totally different background, he did not know how to play strategically and he had a very raw energy which most of them misinterpreted. He was very naïve and sweet and he did not know how to deal with people around him. It was during the last few days before he left that I had a chance to strike a conversation with him. That is when I began understanding the person he was and what he represented.
He was suffering and he was angry. To control his emotions and to not emote, he would walk very rapidly. I decided I would walk along with him and get to know him better. That’s when he said, “Oviya, I know who I am and what my power is. However, I do not want to show any negativity outside and that is why I want to leave. Because I do not want to hurt anybody.”
When one single person is cornered by the others it hurts, and it’s not easy to deal with. He has a family and a career and no one seems to think about that. Dragging him into issues concerning women’s protection and talking about it after a week of what happened makes no sense at all and it was totally unnecessary. Wouldn’t you know whether it was good or bad touch instantly? Would it take you a week later to realise it?
I did not like the group discussion about Bharani and hence, I decided to walk away from both Bharani and the group. Thank God, he left!
Have you had a chance to talk to Julie? If yes, what advice did you give her?
Julie called me once she was eliminated and we did have a conversation. Julie is young and she was only trying to impress everyone as they are all from the film background. If you think from her perspective, what she did isn’t wrong. She was simply influenced by others and she was too young to have realised that. She never had a lot of exposure. She then re-entered and she had a second chance to prove herself.
I usually do not trust anyone anymore but she sounded genuine over the phone she talked about her regrets. I asked her to be herself as she went through a lot – bad comments, negativity everywhere. She felt very bad for everything she had said and done and I knew she was completely genuine about that.
Every ardent Bigg Boss viewer was against Gayathri, Namitha, Raiza and Julie initially because they felt you were being cornered. Your comments?
Everyone has their own point of view and so does the camera. The audience has seen only one side of me and it is not their fault either. If I do not complete something or if I do something I do not openly talk about it as I find doing things like that too dramatic. However, they were just expressing themselves and channelling their character. Nobody’s perfect and I have no issues with them.
However, it was difficult and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind especially the last two weeks. I felt weak and vulnerable. I apologised to Gayathri, I cried a lot which is usually not me. I felt there was no need from my side to apologise but I still did because we were living together and I did not want to be a spoil sport.
However, that made me feeble and I knew I had lost my self-respect. It affected me a lot and they considered even my apology to be a publicity stunt which hurt me a lot.
From being actress Oviya to having an ‘army’ full of fans today, you have come a long way. How has the journey been? Did you expect the warmth and welcome?
No, I did not but honestly, I never care about my image, about what people think of me – it’s a habit I have grown with since my childhood. I never wanted to create an image. That was not just a game, it was my life and it was who I am out there. However, so much love and affection in just 30 to 40 days is unbelievable and I feel truly blessed. This love (from the people) is unconditional and it will never die down. I am happy that people accept the way I am. I do not want anyone to be judgemental. This fan base is overwhelming but I do not know to react to it or the people that want to converse with me. It’s a change and that feel is a good – it’s an experience.
By being yourself, you have paved way for a lot of women to be proud of who they are. Your thoughts?
I am glad because that’s what my parents did for me. They were ready to accept me the way I was and I am. However, the society never accepted me the way I am. Today, watching my moves in Bigg Boss, the society is rather thrilled to find women being themselves as one in a million. Given a chance, I am sure there are a lot of women like me who would want to be expressive too.
Why did you not decide to re-enter despite high fan expectations?
I am extremely grateful and happy that my fans voted immensely for me to stay in and win. However, I apologise for not doing that because I was mentally very disturbed and my family and friends were very upset seeing me suffer. It took some time for me to bounce back to reality and my father’s only concern was that if I got back into that House there were high chances of me facingmental instability once again. I myself did not have that surety that I would be strong enough. Why take a risk? I am happy being back to reality and do not wish to complicate my life any further.
Why did you try harming yourself inside the Bigg Boss house?
I had no other choice. All I wanted to do was get out of the House and there are two rules for that – you either hit a person or you harm yourself. These are two extreme rules of Bigg Boss you need to break if you wanted to get out. I was done living inside by then and I just needed a route to escape. I did not want to hurt anybody so I chose to harm myself.
It was all just a drama to break a rule and go out. I knew that if I stayed any longer within, I would be mentally affected on another level and I did not want that to happen.
Even if I got nominated I knew people would vote me back into the House and it is a good thing but if you stand in my shoes, you would know that all I wanted to do was get out. However, the fact that so many people love me is by itself a positive vibe for me to live my life with joy and content.
Within a week of taking medication and relaxing I felt better. I did not want to get out for a week after I exited because I got questions that tested my patience or sympathy looks. Thank God for me being a strong person because if not, it’s just not possible to handle what I handled.
What next after Bigg Boss?
I have no aim for now (laughs). However, I have a lot of good scripts in my hand now and I am very much interested to do few good ones. Let’s see how that goes. I will do movies but I will do it till I get bored. My aim in life changes from minute to minute. One day I’d want to study abroad and the other day I want to do bartending. I will do anything that gives me happiness at that moment. Right now, I feel like doing good, entertaining movies!
What was the first thing you did when you returned home?
I played a lot with my dog Appu. He missed me so much and he was so thrilled to see me petting him. I felt that love and happiness in him. I never let him sleep!
Your camera dancing is the most loved by the audience. Your comments?
We do not have any entertainment within the House and the songs that are played in the mornings are the only source. I love music and I just tune along with it. I hate to work out to keep myself busy. Music is the only source of positive power to me and it is also my exercise. If you ask me to learn dance I’d be horrible with it. I am not a good dancer but dancing to a random rhythm is easy for me.
Was there any mentor to train you before entering the BiggBoss house?
Not at all! In fact, every decision I take is my own – whether good or bad. I take in opinions but I am the ultimate deciding authority. If there is an unsolvable problem then I ask my dad.
Do you still love Aarav?
My love was true but he was not the man who deserved my true love. However, I wouldn’t blame him as it must have just been something not serious for him and he saw me as a contestant. Not just Aarav, but no one must play with anybody’s emotions if it’s true. I am a little crazy too. If I love someone I love all the wayand I am crazy about them, but that’s just me.
I learnt a lesson that I should have only seen contestants as contestants. I learnt that I should not be fooled in the name of affection ever again. No one is to be blamed here, they were brilliant enough to play a strategic game and I didn’t know that.
I have moved on but it was still haunting me because my name was still going in the House and if the show runs I would be curious enough to watch it. However, after its end, I am not affected anymore – it’s over for me! However, you should never play with true feelings because it hurts and that’s my point.